TORONTO, ON APRIL 18, 2023 –
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is proud to celebrate two years of impactful operations of its Family Justice Centre (FJC). Launched in early 2021, the FJC is a virtual legal clinic that brings together students from every law school in Ontario and volunteer lawyers to offer free family law services to low-income, self-represented litigants.
In its second year of operations, the FJC continued to build on its innovative model and expand its reach, serving nearly 160 self-represented litigants with summary advice and drafting of court documents. In this same period, the FJC also provided more than 230 people with targeted referrals to legal and social services, and educated more than 600 people about family law procedure through its informational video series. “The benefits of providing self-represented litigants with high-quality advice and court documents are enormous,” said Ron Shulman, Managing Partner at Shulman & Partners LLP. “We believe that sharing knowledge and expertise, and promoting true access to justice, is crucial in making a positive impact in our communities. The FJC does just that.”
Looking ahead to the next year, the FJC has plans to strategically expand its service delivery through the creation of new student volunteer roles, continued outreach to clients with a focus on rural communities, and new partnerships with colleagues in the access to family justice community. As shared by Randall Ellsworth, Vice President, Regional Services at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), “We are inspired by the FJC’s growth and focus on innovation, collaboration, and client-centred practices, which mirror many of our own areas of focus at LAO. We value our longstanding partnership with PBSC on family law initiatives, and we believe the FJC has a bright future as a longstanding contributor to access to justice in Ontario.”
PBSC would like to acknowledge that the FJC’s work over the past year was made possible by the generous funding of its Founding Partner, Epstein Cole LLP, Program Partner, Legal Aid Ontario, and Champion Partner, Shulman & Partners LLP, as well as the support of the Friends of the FJC, Thomson Rogers, Boulby Weinberg LLP, and Settify, and In-Kind Partners, DivorceMate and Clio. We also want to thank our dedicated roster of volunteer lawyers from across the province who offer their time and expertise in service of the FJC’s clients and mentorship of our student caseworkers. “On this second anniversary of the FJC, we can celebrate progress in meeting the A2J challenge for family law clients,” said Roslyn Tsao, Managing Partner at Epstein Cole LLP and FJC Pro Bono Lawyer Supervisor. “The continued support of LAO, sponsors, and the volunteer lawyer supervisors are vital to the FJC model – providing practical advocacy services to our clients while also mentoring students into the area of family law litigation.”
About Pro Bono Students Canada
PBSC was established in 1996 at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. PBSC’s mission is to provide free legal support to people and communities facing barriers to justice. Each year, the organization recruits approximately 1,500 law student volunteers who work with community partners and under the supervision of pro bono lawyers and notaries to serve an estimated 12,000 people. The organization’s student volunteers alone provide approximately 120,000 hours of free legal support annually, helping to close the justice gap while providing students with opportunities to develop valuable skills and experiences.
Jason Goodman, Director, Family Justice